Panzanella - Italian bread salad 27.01.2009

Inspired by the Heatwave of the Century, Panzanella is a virtually no-cook meal, and this version simply contains the things we had to hand. It’s a meal to showcase the virtues of salt, really.


  • 8 fat (fat!) slices of 2-day-old casalinga, or white sourdough, or something chunky and oil-absorbing, torn into cube-link hunks of a couple of centimetres wide.
  • 6 ripe ripe ripe tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • half a red onion, very finely sliced
  • a big handful basil leaves, torn
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, if you must


This is a rustic, farmy salad - nothing should be too carefully chopped or elegantly assembled. Tearing is the order of the day (although I defy you to tear a tomato).

Heat some olive oil and, once it's really hot, throw in the chunks of bread. Fry them a bit - some goldenness is good, but you don't want enormous croutons, just sorta crispy bread chunks. Add some salt flakes and pepper towards the end. It'll take 30 seconds to a minute; when they're done, set them aside on some absorbent paper.

Fry the fine slices of red onion in what's left of the oil until a bit soft - you really just want to take the burpy, indigestion-inducing edge off, so this only takes a minute or so.

Then mix the onion, tomato, cucumber, basil and bread together, and dress with some extra-nice olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a dash of vinegar (although tomato salads tend not to require too much I find, so tread carefully).

Serve! Enough for a low-key entree for 4 people, or a greedy, 30-degree night dinner for two.

File under summer salad vegetarian

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